Wall Street’s major domestic equity indexes closed out the week with low trading volume before the holiday weekend as several blue-chip stocks slipped, including Nike.
Nike fell 2.3 percent after the company forecast muted growth, reflecting its struggles in the North American market.
UnitedHealth Group was down 0.8 percent after the health insurer agreed to buy Chilean healthcare company Banmedica for $2.8 billion.
Investors are winding down ahead of Christmas on Monday, when the market will be closed. For the week, the Dow chalked up a gain of 0.42 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.29 percent and the Nasdaq was up 0.34 percent.
Wildly volatile bitcoin fell below $12,000, losing around a third of its market value in five days, before rebounding to above $14,000. Companies that have been riding the bitcoin wave were hit hard by the cryptocurrency’s slump.
Long Blockchain, Overstock.com, Riot Blockchain and Marathon Patent Group fell between 2 and 15 percent. But even with Friday’s losses, their share prices are higher now than before the companies ventured into bitcoin.
Data on Friday indicated consumer spending rose during November and shipments of key capital goods orders increased for the 10th straight month, confirming strong economic momentum.
The S&P 500 index is up about 20 percent this year and is on track for its best performance since 2013 on solid corporate earnings, strong economic fundamentals, upcoming cuts to corporate tax rates and hopes of looser regulations.
The real estate sector led the S&P 500 in gains, with a 0.7 percent rise. Health was the largest decliner with a 0.3 percent decline.
Celgene fell 1.4 percent after the company’s follicular lymphoma regimen failed in a clinical trial.
Approximately 4.81 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges on Friday, as compared to the 6.98 billion share average over the past 20 trading sessions.
The Day’s Economic Data
Consumer spending accelerated in November with shipments of capital goods increasing for the 10th straight month. It was the latest sign of strong momentum in the economy as the year winds down.
However, the numbers also indicated household savings fell last month to their lowest level in more than nine years. Low savings could hurt consumer spending, though economists are optimistic wage growth will pick up in the new year.
Look for a modest lift to consumer spending from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package approved by Congress this week. It was the largest modification of the tax code in 30 years.
According to the Commerce Department, consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity, rose 0.6 percent last month after gaining 0.2 percent in October. Spending last month was buoyed by an increase in demand for motor vehicles, recreational goods and utilities.
When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending increased 0.4 percent in November from unchanged in the prior month. Personal income rose 0.3 percent last month, with wages increasing 0.4 percent.
As a result, households dipped into their savings, which fell to $426.2 billion – the lowest level since August 2008 and down from $466.9 billion in October. The saving rate dropped to a 10-year low of 2.9 percent from 3.2 percent in October.
In addition to savings, consumer spending is being driven by record household wealth, thanks to a booming stock market and rising home prices.
With the economy near full employment, the tax cuts will only provide a modest increase inee growth. President Donald Trump signed the tax legislation into law on Friday. It slashes the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and offers tax cuts for individuals.
The Trump administration argues that the tax cuts will boost both business and consumer spending. But the individual income tax cuts are skewed toward higher-income households, which economists say have a low propensity to consume.
However, past experience would indicate that companies will use much of the windfall on increased dividends, stock buybacks and debt reduction.
Despite the increase in spending, monthly inflation remained benign in November. The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent in November after gaining 0.2 percent in October.
The so-called core PCE price index increased 1.5 percent in the 12 months through November, picking up from 1.4 percent in October. It has undershot the Fed’s 2 percent target since mid-2012 and its progress could determine the pace at which the U.S. central bank raises interest rates next year.
In a second report on Friday, the Commerce Department indicated that shipments of non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft – a closely watched proxy for business spending – rose 0.3 percent after surging 1.3 percent in October.
Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement. They have risen every month since February, the longest stretch since the series started in 1992.
The increase in core capital goods shipments over the last two months suggested a strong pace of increase in business spending on equipment in the fourth quarter.
Business investment in equipment rose at its fastest pace in three years in the third quarter, but the momentum could be slowing. Core capital goods orders slipped 0.1 percent last month after rising 0.8 percent in October.
In a third report, the Commerce Department reported that new home sales rose 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units last month. That was the highest level since July 2007. New home sales were up 26.6 percent from a year ago.